April Arts and Entertainment Picks

April 2017’s top cultural events in the Twin Cities

3.28 – 4.15

To Begin With

Charles Dickens was one of the most prolific and commercially successful prose authors of all time, and his works are often adapted for the stage—we have evidence of that every year at the Guthrie during the holidays. Less known is a work called The Life of Our Lord, an adaptation of Bible Gospels that Dickens wrote for his own children and never intended to publish (it finally saw print more than six decades after his demise). The new play To Begin With depicts and explores Dickens’s creation of this piece, and the actor who portrays the writer has a certain claim to authenticity—his name is Gerald Charles Dickens, and he’s the author’s great-great grandson. Playwright Jeffrey Hatcher pens the effort, lending his always deft, wry,
and very human touch to the proceedings
at the Historic Wesley Center. hennepintheatretrust.org

4.10 – 30


Qui Nguyen’s new play about immigrating to America from Vietnam has local ties—Nguyen lived here for a spell until 2013—but it has an adventurous and genre-breaking spirit that’s getting it noticed around the country (it recently had an extended run in New York). The experience of Nguyen’s parents, who met at a refugee camp in the American South in the 1970s, is rendered with exaggerated dialogue, crazy action scenes, and an approach that’s been compared to everything from comic books to exploitation films. Expect a show that fits into the bold and unabashedly experimental offerings of Mixed Blood Theatre in recent years. mixedblood.com

photo by rich ryan


The Zombies

Rock’n’roll obsessives always have a special place in their heart for the genius who almost made it, the cult artists who should have been megastars. The Zombies story thankfully doesn’t have a tragic undertow, but one of the first UK bands after the Beatles to top the charts in America managed to short-circuit their success by breaking up in 1968 just before the release of their classic hit album Odessey and Oracle. They’ve reunited a number of times in the decades since, and come to First Avenue to play their ridiculously catchy hits such as “Time of the Season,” which sound as fresh and innovative today as they did decades ago. first-avenue.com

photo courtesy of the zombies

4.22 – 23

The Magnetic Fields: 50 Song Memoir

When talking about his 1999 three-CD epic 69 Love Songs, songwriter Stephin Merritt opined that his sprawling project wasn’t really made up of love songs—rather it was an album about love songs. For an exercise in craft, it was remarkably moving as a series of miniature portraits of the human heart. This year his band the Magnetic Fields releases 50 Song Memoir, with one song for each year of Merritt’s life. In this two-night residency at the Fitzgerald, he’s fronting a seven-member band and playing 25 different songs on each night, with musical instruments and a stage set that represents both the historic and the contemporary—think classical strings and synthesizers sharing space with shag carpeting and vintage reel-to-reel tape decks. fitzgeraldtheater.publicradio.org

through 4.30

“Roadside Attractions: Next 5 Exits”

Growing up American entails a deep love of the concrete ribbons of our country’s interstates and back roads, with all the small-town diners, moonlit plains, and the hypnotic undulation of the seemingly infinite landscape. “Roadside Attractions” at Northern Clay Center is a playful celebration of the road trip, seen through a lens of nostalgia and idealized Americana that’s as fun and engaging as the puzzles we did on those paper kids’ menus at those bygone roadside stops—with renditions of everything from whipped cream-topped waffles to endlessly refilled coffee mugs and an overstuffed 1970s Winnebago. All this, and no backseat turf war with surly siblings. northernclaycenter.org

photo by mariko paterson

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